On average, for every dollar a man in the corporate world earns, a woman is paid 54 cents in developed countries. In India, the gender wage gap was approximately 25% in 2015. At this rate, it will take at least 202 years for this gap to close. So why do women get paid less than men?
The gender wage gap is when women are paid less than men for doing the same amount of work for the same amount of time. In every country, women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts and, this wage gap has only narrowed slightly over the past decade. India ranked 108th out of 149 countries on the gender gap index released by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2018. When analysing the number of women in the workforce, India is one of the bottom ten on the list. So not only does India have unequal pay between genders, but also unequal representation. Women form 48% of our population but, only one-fourth of them are in the workforce and, these women often face discrimination and sexist behaviour.
One of these causes can be attributed to the careers that certain genders commonly choose. In India, we often hear that becoming a teacher is for girls and becoming an engineer is for boys. This reinforcement often prompts people to choose careers based on the expectations placed on them. On average, teachers are paid less than engineers around the world. Men are more likely to hold high positions in sectors with a high average earning while women are likely to take jobs in education which does not pay as much money. Therefore the gender differences in career choices affect the earning from the job. It can be due to there not being enough role models for women in these male-dominated spaces. There is also often a gender gap at the higher rates of administration and leadership within these occupations.
Data suggests that women are also more likely to work part-time than men. Part-time work for the same job in the same sector has a lower hourly wage and fewer benefits than comparable full-time work. Even if men and women with an identical educational background begin their careers, within ten years the wage gap between women and men widens. It is because of the societal pressure on women to have children and take care of them. Due to this women choose to move to part-time employment to spend more time in motherhood and childcare when their children are young. If they return to work full-time, they generally get a lower wage than if they had not left the job.
A very high percentage of women in developing countries work in the informal sector. These jobs do not provide the benefits of full-time work in the formal sector like steady salaries, health benefits and safety conditions, job security and social protection. One solution for this could be to promote the idea that men and women should take care of children equally. Also, gender should not be attached to a career from a young age and, children should be allowed to choose their occupations based on interest.